Activist Researcher Is Back with Outlier Claims on Oil, Natural Gas Methane Emissions
A new Park Foundation-funded methane study is generating lots of anti-fracking headlines, despite its conclusions being at odds with the bulk of the scientific community. Cornell University professor and Food and Water Watch board member, Bob Howarth, is back and this time he claims that oil and natural gas emissions are the primary cause of recent global methane spikes – a theory that many climate and atmospheric scientists have rejected.
Howarth’s conclusions were called “far-reaching” and “premature” by one of the anonymous experts tasked by Biogeosciences to review the research prior to publication, who explained:
“The advice to move as quickly as possible away from natural gas based on this study does not appear sufficiently conclusive…”
The research, which Howarth stressed multiple times during the journal’s review process is “in the ‘Ideas & Perspectives’ category and is not a traditional research paper,” also met a healthy dose of skepticism from the scientific community. As Newsweek reports:
“Quentin Fisher, professor of petroleum geoengineering at the U.K.’s University of Leeds, said he was ‘deeply skeptical’ about the study. ’The results are extremely sensitive to highly questionable assumptions regarding the isotopic composition of methane found in shale. The arguments made by previous studies that increase in methane in the atmosphere is from biogenic sources, such as release from wetlands and agriculture or burning of biomass, seem far more convincing.’” (emphasis added)
Fisher’s criticism is likely the first of many if Howarth’s previous research track record of rejections is any indicator. EID has the four key facts to keep in mind when reading the study’s media coverage on EIDClimate.org.